New Book Alert: British Tank Crewman 1939-45

Osprey Publishing has released a new volume in their Warrior series looking at British tank crewment in the Second World War. British Tank Crewman 1939-45 (Warrior) is written by Neil Grant and follows the pattern set by preceeding entries in the Warrior series, bein a softcover book of 64 pages.

Publisher’s Description:

Great Britain had introduced the tank to the world during World War I, and maintained its lead in armored warfare with the “Experimental Mechanized Force” during the late 1920s, watched with interest by German advocates of Blitzkrieg. Despite these successes, the Experimental Mechanised Force was disbanded in the 1930s, making Britain relatively unprepared for World War II, both in terms of armored doctrine and equipment.

This fully illustrated new study examines the men who crewed the tanks of Britain’s armored force during World War II, which was only four battalions large in 1939. It looks at the recruitment and training of the vast numbers of men required, their equipment, appearance and combat experience in every theater of the war as the British armored division sought to catch up with the German Panzers.

Available on Amazon here.

Book Review: Can Openers

We will start this book review with this video produced by book author Nicholas Moran giving a description of the work in his own words.   The background footage scrolling behind him gives a pretty good idea as to the layout of the book for those that are curious.

 

Mr. Moran was kind enought to provide us with a review copy of the book so that we may share our thoughts on it with our readers.  From this point forward, we will refer to Mr. Moran by his nickname “The Chieftain” for the simple fact that it’s a pretty cool moniker.

Can openersIn the video above, The Chieftain makes a reference to his book as a “Hunnicutt for tank destroyers.”  This is an apt description.  Those familiar with the works of Richard Hunnicutt will know that his ten volume work contains a detailed history of US armored vehicle development, each volume dedicated to a specific vehicle type, such as Medium tanks, Heavy tanks, halftracks, etc. However if you scan through the titles of his books you will find one title conspicuously absent, US tank destroyers. To be sure, tank destroyers are included in his books, but scattered over about five different volumes and generally regulated to the later pages of the volume. For example, if you want to read about the tank destroyers that saw service during WWII war, you will need to go to the Hunnicutt Sherman book for the M10 and M36, the Stuart book for the M18, the Halftrack book for the M3 GMC, and the Armored Car book for the various wheeled tank destroyer models.

Fortunately, this dilemma has been solved by the new book Can Openers: The Development of US Anti-tank Gun Motor Carriages by World of Tanks researcher and historian Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran. Known in part to the wider public for his Inside the Hatch video series, this book marks his first foray into book writing. Those that follow his articles on the World of Tanks website and in the “Chieftain’s Hatch” section of the World of Tanks online forum will recognize his writing style in this volume. The sarcastic wit of The Chieftain comes through in the text, making it a bit more easy to digest than the relatively dry writing style of Hunnicutt.

It should be pointed out that this is a developmental history of US tank destroyers and is focused on describing the various different models and prototypes and providing some background as to why each vehicle was accepted or rejected. It is not an in-depth history of the tank destroyer branch itself. For that, we would suggest Charles Baily’s Faint Praise or Steven Zaloga’s writings.  For a history of the tank destroy battalions during WWII, we recommend Harry Yeide’s book The Tank Killers.  Speaking of Harry Yeide, he provides a nice forward for this new book.

It is obvious that Mr. Moran has spent a good deal of time in the archives compiling the information and collecting the photographs for the book. This is not a rehash of previously published materials, and those familiar with the subject will be pleased to find photos they have probably never seen before. The book is also sprinkled with quotes from letters and memos from the various US Army officers involved in the development of these tank destroyers. These quotes do much to explain the thinking and rationale of the people responsible for this assortment of oddities and experiments, helping to explain how some of these vehicles that seem so obviously flawed to those of us with the benefit of hindsight came to be.

The history of US anti-tank Gun Motor Carriages (GMC’s) presents some of the stranger armored vehicles to come out of the ordnance department during the war. Certainly, there is much in the pages of this volume to make one shake their head and wonder what exactly was going through the heads of the designers. In particular, the early attempts to mate a high velocity anti-tank weapon to a light wheeled chassis produced a number of ill-conceived contraptions.  For those that enjoy contemplating such machines, The Chieftain has assembled an admirable history.

Since we reviewed this from a digital copy, we have not had a chance to examine an actual copy.  However, we have been informed that in terms of size and paper quality, this book is very similar to the World of Tanks reprint of the Hunnicutt Firepower book by Echo Point.

If you would like to pre-order this book, please do so at http://www.echopointbooks.com/history/can-openers

AFV News from Around the Web

Here is another assortment of recent news articles on armored vehices. Click on the headline to go to the complete piece.  It’s been a while since we did one of these, so this one is a bit longer than usual.

Jane’s 360 – USMC’s AAV7, ACV programmes trade capacity, terrain capability for survivability

1709064_-_main.jpgThe US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) two-pronged amphibious vehicle modernisation effort will include some significant survivability upgrades to its legacy AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles, and be complemented with a new personnel carrier with mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP)-levels of protection.

 

Jane’s 360 – Over half of Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 MBTs are not operationally ready

p1195545German media reported on 16 November that only 95 of the 244 Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) in service with the Bundeswehr are operationally ready. A further 53 vehicles – thought to be Leopard 2A6Ms – are being converted to the new Leopard 2A6M+ standard, and 86 are in a state of disrepair without any spare parts. The German report states that “the unavailability of the required replacement parts would be detrimental”.

 

Jane’s 360 – Ukraine to purchase more BTR-3DA IFVs

1712535_-_mainThe Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has placed an order with the Kiev Armoured Plant for BTR-3DA vehicles, Ukraine-based industry sources reported on 30 October.  The order is for an unknown quantity of BTR-3DA infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), a locally developed upgrade for the BTR family of armoured fighting vehicles. The order follows a series of delays because of MoD concerns that the vehicle was not suitably priced.

 

Jane’s 360 – Challenger 2 trialled with ROSY, Iron Fist APS

Rheinmetall’s ROSY rapid obscurant system has been demonstrated on a British Army Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBT), Jane’s has learned, with components of Israeli Military Industries’ (IMI) Iron Fist hard-kill active protection system (APS) also understood to have been integrated.

 

Defense News – Industry expresses ‘fears’ over India’s future combat vehicle program

INFHSKYNOFDJFC4NBC2PY7HHUY (1)NEW DELHI — India has launched a $4.8 billion program for the domestic production of 1,770 multipurpose future ready combat vehicles by private companies partnered with overseas original equipment manufacturers, but some leaders in the local industry are hesitant about what they consider an overly ambitious program that lacks clarity.

 

The Telegraph – Government has spent £381m upgrading army’s ageing armoured vehicles even though half could be scrapped

download (1)The Ministry of Defence has spent £381 million upgrading the army’s  ageing infantry fighting vehicles even though half of them could now be scrapped to cut costs.  Lockheed Martin was hired six years ago to overhaul and fit new gun turrets to Britain’s ageing fleet of Warriors, which have served in the Gulf, Bosnia and Iraq.  But Ministry of Defence documents forecast the Warrior upgrade is a year behind schedule, with the programme incurring extra costs as a result of delays.

 

Bangkok Post – Five Ukraine tanks on way to Thailand

A new batch of five more tanks from Ukraine will be delivered late this month as the Royal Thai Army has so far received 31 of the Ukraine-made T84 Oplot tanks, according to an army source. Ukraine was contracted to supply a battalion of 49 T84 Oplot tanks worth 7.2 billion baht in 2011 but was slow to press ahead with production and delivery due to security problems in the country.

 

BBC News – Commander says tanks as ‘relevant’ now as 100 years ago

_98817047_hi043091711The regiment, based at Tidworth in Wiltshire, has commemorated the anniversary of the Cambrai battle.  Formed out of the Tank Corps, the tanks broke the stalemate of trench warfare in World War One.  Lt Col Simon Ridgway said the soldiers “changed the course of the war” with their courage.

 

Reuters – Turkey received bids in tender for 500 battle tanks last week: minister

Turkey received bids last Friday for the production of 500 Altay battle tanks, of which 250 are optional, Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Wednesday.  Speaking to parliament’s budget commission, Canikli said the tender would be finalised in the coming days. The domestic Altay tank project is worth an estimated 7 billion euros ($8.24 billion).

 

Newsweek – Russia says it has more tanks than any other nation in the world

1108russiantanks.jpgRussia has boosted its arsenal of tanks and armored vehicles by more than 25,000 over the last half a decade, one of its deputy defense ministers boasted on Wednesday.  Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense and Army General Dmitry Bulgakov told army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda: “Over the five years between 2012 and 2017, the army has received more than 25,000 units of new armored tank and automobile kit, as well as 4,000 modern items of rocket and artillery weaponry.”

 

The Sentinel – Tanks a lot: Welder helps build replica tank

Pictured-on-the-tank-is-Chris-Sheldon-with-TV-presenter-Guy-MartinJPGA Staffordshire Moorlands welder has helped TV presenter Guy Martin build a replica of a WW1 tank for the Armistice Day commemorations in France which marked 100 years since tanks were first used in battle.  Welder Chris Shenton, from Leek, has been part of excavator giant JCB’s team to help TV personality Guy Martin to engineer a tribute to the role tanks played in helping change the course of the First World War.

Book Alert: Can Openers by Nicholas Moran

Echo Point Publishing has posted pre-order information for the long awaited volume by World of Tanks researcher Nicholas Moran on US Tank Destroyer development.  This is a hardcover book of 240 pages containing photographs and reports, many of which come previously undiscovered from the archives.  Deliverly is said to be late December, hopefully in time for Christmas.  We have had the opportunity to view an advance digital copy of this book and can vouch for its quality.  We will be posting a more complete book review later this week.

Publisher’s Description:

CanOpenerPreorderEcho Point is pleased to partner with World of Tanks again for this Limited Edition Hardcover edition of Can Openers by Nicholas Moran, aka The Chieftain,” Director of Militaria Relations at Wargaming America.

This new work fills a gap in the existing documentation for these fascinating tank killers.

Hardback, about 240 pages long, $52.95 plus shipping, and filled with reports and photographs taken primarily from Ordnance Branch and Tank Destroyer Board archives, most of it previously unpublished, it traces the development of anti-tank vehicles from the 37mm Gun Motor Carriage T2 through to the 90mm Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun M56 Scorpion. The bonus code coming with the book, for PC, is for an M56. It does not cover the deployment and use of the vehicle, only the technical development of the designs and the decisionmaking behind that development.

Order fulfillment will take place toward the end of December.  We hope these may even ship in time for holiday delivery(!)  Updates on our delivery timeframe will be posted as they occur.  Orders will be shipped in the order received, so order early to ensure the earliest delivery date!

Pre-order the book here

The Tank Museum presents Cambrai: The Tank Corps Story Part 1/3

Part of the three part video series by the Tank Museum on the Battle of Cambrai.

Time Lapse Video from NACM

Here is a short video from the National Armor and Cavalry Restoration Center on Fort Benning, Ga showing some of the items they have in their possesion.  We look forward to the day when these historic armored vehicles have a home in the new building planned for this museum.

 

More AUSA videos

Earlier this month we posted some videos from Jane’s and DefenseWeb TV showing some of the vehicles and weapons systems on display at the recent AUSA show.  Here are some more.